The Shape of Things

SHAPES - The Shape of Things

Shape, Form, and Structure are some of the most elusive notions within diverse disciplines ranging from humanities (literature, arts) to sciences (chemistry, biology, physics etc.) and within these from the formal (like mathematics) to the empirical disciplines (such as engineering and cognitive science). Even within domains such as computer science and artificial intelligence, these notions are replete with common-sense meanings (think of everyday perception and communication), and formalisations of the semantics and reasoning about shape, form, and structure are often ad-hoc. Whereas several approaches have been proposed within the aforementioned disciplines to study the notions of shape, form and structure from different viewpoints, a comprehensive formal treatment of these notions is currently lacking and no real interdisciplinary perspective has been put forward.

This workshop series provides an interdisciplinary platform for the discussion of all topics connected to shape (broadly understood): perspectives from psycho-linguistics, ontology, computer science, mathematics, aesthetics, cognitive science and beyond are welcome to contribute and participate in the workshops. We seek to facilitate a discussion between researchers from all disciplines interested in representing shape and reasoning about it. This includes formal, cognitive, linguistic, engineering and/or philosophical aspects of space, as well as their application in the sciences and in the arts.

Topics of the workshop include:


shape and form in natural language
differences between shape, form, structure, and pattern
shape in natural and artificial objects


shape perception and mental representation
gestalt vs. structuralist understanding of shape cognition
perception and shape (e.g. identifying objects from incomplete visual information)
affordances, dispositions, and shape


formal characterisations of shape and form
logics for shape: e.g. fuzzy, modal, intensional, etc.
logics for topology, symmetry, shape similarity etc.
design semantics, spatial semantics
shape and 3D space
shape and space in creative assistance systems


ontologies and classifications of shapes
ontological relations among shape, objects and functions
patterns as shapes of processes
forms and patterns in ontology


biology & chemistry:
molecular shapes, shape in anatomy and phenotype definitions, shape in medical image analysis and annotation
visual art and aesthetics;
shape in Film and Photography;
shape, form and structure in music;
shape in computational creativity;
naive physics and geography: e.g. qualitative classifications of shapes of geographic objects
design & architecture: shape grammars; CAD, symmetry and beauty in architectural design
engineering: formal shape analysis in engineering processes

The next SHAPES 3.0 will be co-located with

SHAPES 2.0 - 2013


SHAPES 1.0 - 2011




The next SHAPES 3.0 will be co-located with CONTEXT 2015
the keynotes and accepted presentations are listed below.


John Bateman (University of Bremen, Germany)
The Shape of Creativity
batemanJohn Bateman is a Professor of Linguistics in the English and Linguistics Departments of Bremen University, specializing in functional, computational and multimodal linguistics. His research interests include functional linguistic approaches to multilingual and multimodal document design, semiotics, and theories of discourse. He has been investigating the relation between language and other semiotic systems for many years, focusing particularly on accounts of register, genre, functional variation, lexicogrammatical description and theory, multilingual and multimodal linguistic description, and computational instantiations of linguistic theory. He has published widely in all these areas, as well as authoring several introductory and survey articles on multimodality, multimodal linguistic film analysis and automatic natural language generation. His current interests centre on the application of functional linguistic and corpus methods to multimodal meaning making, analysing and critiquing multimodal documents of all kinds, the development of linguistically-motivated ontologies, and the construction of computational dialogue systems for robot-human communication.

Emilios Cambouropoulos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
The Shape Of Music - The Music Of Shape
emilios_bwEmilios Cambouropoulos is an Associate Professor in Musical Informatics at the School of Music Studies, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He studied Physics, Music and Music Technology, and obtained his PhD in 1998 on Artificial Intelligence and Music at the University of Edinburgh. He worked as a research associate at King’s College London (1998-1999) and at the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna (1999-2001). He is an associate/consulting editor for international journals such as Music Perception, Journal of New Music Research, Musicae Scientiae, Journal of Interdisciplinary Musicology Studies, and member of the boards of ESCOM and ICMPC. He is a member of the Cognitive and Computational Modeling Group and participates with his research team in the EU project COINVENT focusing on concept invention via conceptual blending in the domain of music harmony. He has published numerous scientific papers in scientific journals, books and conference proceedings.

Verónica Dahl (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Shapes in Logic Grammars
veronicaVerónica Dahl is an Argentine/Canadian computer scientist who is recognized as one of the 15 founders of the field of logic programming. She has contributed over 100 scientific publications in the fields of computational linguistics, deductive knowledge bases, computational molecular biology and web based virtual worlds. She has received numerous scientific awards- such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Award for Science and Technology-, and a few literary awards as well. Her greatest ambition is to help bridge the gap between the formal and the humanistic sciences, in the hopes that this will be conducive to an overall more balanced world. She is presently Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University. Her research is supported by NSERC.


± Maria Rosaria Stufano Melone and Stefano Borgo.
Towards an Understanding of Shapes and Types in Architecture
± Ifeoluwanimi Adebara and Veronica Dahl.
Domes as a prodigal shape in synthesis-enhanced parsers
± Lorenz Demey and Hans Smessaert.
Shape Heuristics in Aristotelian Diagrams
± Katie Mccallum.
Shape in Mathematical Discourse, As Observed by an Artist Explorer
± Cecilia Luca and Michele Sinico.
Affordances of intimacy: the extended self in human-environment interaction
± Ahmed Abdel-Fattah, Wael Zakaria, Nashwa Abdelghaffar, Nohayr Abdelmoneim, Nermeen Elsaadany, Angela Schwering and Kai-Uwe Kuehnberger.
Towards the Modeling of Sketch-based Understanding: Can Computers Interpret what Non-Artists Draw?
± Maria Hedblom and Oliver Kutz.
Shape up, baby!
± Ifeoluwanimi Adebara and Veronica Dahl.
Shape Analysis as an aid for Grammar Induction
± Mehul Bhatt and Jakob Suchan.
OBSESSED BY SYMMETRY. -Wes Anderson- and the Visual and Cinematographic Shape of His Films
± Mehul Bhatt and Jakob Suchan (Demo).
DEEP SEMANTICS FOR VISUAL PERCEPTION: Methods | Tools | Perspectives from Artificial Intelligence and Spatial Cognition
± Jorge Gil and Lorena Olmos.
Hedonic design. Contributing factors in generating emotional ties for the shape of products



Paper, Abstract, and Demo submissions: September 15
Notification of paper acceptance: October 10
Early Registration at CONTEXT: October 15
(Regular/Student Registration is inclusive of access to all conference sessions, workshops, conference proceedings, daily coffee breaks, daily lunches for the days of the main conference (3–6 Nov), as well as the Welcome Reception and Conference Dinner.)
Workshop date: November 2, 2015


Papers must be typeset as per the formatting guidelines provided below; submissions should be submitted in PDF using the Easychair website. Final camera ready copies should not contain headers, footers, or page numbers.

  • Formatting instructions: Templates (LaTeX and Word)
  • Page Length: Full papers: 8-10 pages; Extended abstracts: 3-4 pages; Demo Proposals: 1 page.
  • Online submission: Shapes 3.0 Easychair

In addition to full paper contributions, extended abstracts or work-in-progress short papers are invited. Such papers may be allotted a regular or a short presentation slot. Please refer to the online submission guidelines. We especially encourage young students or doctoral researchers to make use of the short submission format. However, the short paper format is open to all researchers.

A limited number of student scholarships will be competitively made available to assist students to participate in the workshop. Awarded scholarships include a 1-year IAOA membership.

We also invite proposals to present a system demonstration. Proposals should address the relevance of the demo to the topics of the workshop. Demos are not restricted to scientific projects; interdisciplinary collaborations involving partnerships, e.g., between artists, designers, researchers, are welcome to apply too.

Program 3.0

Program: SHAPES 3.0

SLOT 1 : 9:00 - 10:30 (Chair: Stefano Borgo)


9:10 Shapes in Logic Grammars
Veronica Dahl (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

10:00 OBSESSED BY SYMMETRY. -Wes Anderson- and the Visual and Cinematographic Shape of His Films
Mehul Bhatt and Jakob Suchan

10:20 Demo: DEEP SEMANTICS FOR VISUAL PERCEPTION: Methods | Tools | Perspectives from Artificial Intelligence and Spatial Cognition
Mehul Bhatt and Jakob Suchan

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee

SLOT 2 : 11:00 - 12:30 (Chair: John Bateman)

11:00 Towards an Understanding of Shapes and Types in Architecture
Maria Rosaria Stufano Melone and Stefano Borgo

11:30 Affordances of intimacy: the extended self in human-environment interaction
Cecilia Luca and Michele Sinico

11:50 Shape in Mathematical Discourse, As Observed by an Artist Explorer
Katie Mccallum

12:10 Shape up, baby! Perception, image schemas, and shapes in concept formation
Maria Hedblom and Oliver Kutz

12:30 - 14:00 Lunch

SLOT 3 : 14:00 - 15:40 (Chair: Oliver Kutz)

14:00: The Shape of Music — The Music of Shape
Emilios Cambouropoulos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)

14:50 Shape Heuristics in Aristotelian Diagrams
Lorenz Demey and Hans Smessaert

15:20 Discussion

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee

SLOT 4: 16:00 - 17:30 (Chair: Mehul Bhatt)
16:00 Domes as a prodigal shape in synthesis-enhanced parsers
Ifeoluwanimi Adebara and Veronica Dahl

16:20 The Shape of Creativity
John Bateman (University of Bremen, Germany)

17:10 Discussion

20:00 SHAPES Dinner



Organising Committee

Oliver Kutz (KRDB, Free University of Bolzano, Italy)
Stefano Borgo (LOA, ISTC-CNR, Trento, Italy)
Mehul Bhatt (University of Bremen, Germany)

Program Committee

Frieder Nake (Bremen)
Ingvar Johansson (Umeå)
Tarek Besold (Osnabrück)
Pieter Vermaas (Delft)
Michael Gruninger (Toronto)
Paulo E. Santos (Sao Paulo)
Tillman Weyde (London)
Giancarlo Guizzardi (Espírito Santo)
Maria Rosaria Stufano Melone (Bari)
Emilios Cambouropoulos (Thessaloniki)
Nicola Guarino (Trento)
Antony Galton (Exeter)
Inge Hinterwaldner (MIT / Basel)
John Bateman (Bremen)

SHAPES is supported by
International Association for Ontology and its Applications logo